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Old February 29th, 2004, 06:28 PM   #1
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Which camera to use with 35mm?

Hi, I've read through most of the threads on the P+S forum and a lot of people seem to be using the XL1S (PAL and NTSC) with the P+S adapter. I'm a little concerned with this because I've already got a GL1 and basically the GL1, 2, and XL1/S share the same video quality, except for the slight differences in color and low light sensitivity, and I'm already used to that look. But nobody seems to be using any of the newer cameras that have come out from Sony, Panasonic, and JVC (PD170, DVX100A, and HD10U respectively). I'm wanting to get a new camera to make short films for blow up (in other words, I want to be able to show these movies in theaters) and I want one that is supported by the P+S 35mm adapter, but these newer cameras have better features and supposedly sharper quality when compared to the XL1S. So if I were to invest in a any of these other cameras (although I have yet to see what cameras will be announced in April and May) and a P+S 35mm adapter, would I be getting the same or better image quality than the XL1S and P+S adapter combo?

Basically, if I got the DVX100A, PD170, or HD10U(which isn't yet supported), what would be the difference?

An argument for Frame mode is unnecessary as it isn't good for theatre blow up according to my vast research into the subject.
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Old March 1st, 2004, 01:24 PM   #2
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Hi Jack,

There is one fundamental difference between the XL1s and the other DV cameras; the lens is removable on the XL1s. This has the advantage to give a better optical control of the image between the adapter and the camera. The professional viewfinder, be it color or back & white, can be detached from the XL1s camera and properly mounted for handheld use. This makes this camera the most versatile when it come to using the P+S Mini 35 adapter. The last version of the adapter has been redesigned to be used not only with the Xl1s but also with the Sony VX2000, PD150 and the Panasonic DVX 100A by assembling it with the proper kit. In the case of the later cameras, there is a specific optical relay mounted in the front of the existing camera lens. Each of these relays is designed to transmit the best possible quality thorough the lens of the cameras. However in these cases, the viewfinder at the back of the cameras makes it impractical to handhold the adapter. These combinations are best in the case of studio work with a tripod or a dolly.
So far I have indirect information about the Sony PD170. As far I was told it is physically the same as the PD 150 so it can be assembled with the same kit on the adapter and it has the same viewfinder limitation as the PD150.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 05:37 PM   #3
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Well, that's all fine and everything, but I'm talking about footage quality. Sure, it may be easier to pop the adapter on and off of an XL1S but what about the image quality on other cameras?
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 06:24 PM   #4
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That's a tough one to know the real answer to. I had the opportunity to use the mini35 with a DVX100, and my intention was to test it against the XL1 version, so we'd know the answer.

The question comes down to: does the DVX100, with its 2002-generation, progressive-scan, full-resolution chips, 480 lines of resolution, cinegamma, 24P, etc. deliver better-looking footage than the XL1s, with its 1997-vintage, frame-mode 320-lines chips, at 30fps, when one factors in that the DVX needs to shoot through the camera's fixed lens, whereas the XL1s needs only a relay lens?

I wanted to test them side-by-side, but we were unable to get an XL1 connecting kit for the time I had the mini35/DVX unit.

So, objective tests remain elusive. You can, however, do a little subjective testing. Order the demo DVD from ZGC. All of the clips on there are from XL1's, except a clip called "Narren", which is from a VX2000.

In my opinion, "Narren" is every bit as sharp and clean and attractive as the best of the XL1 footage, but that's still not solving much, because that footage has been converted to 24P, it's been compressed on DVD, and a lot of the XL1 footage has been converted from PAL to NTSC as well, so it's difficult to judge.

Without seeing raw clips from both, especially of the same subject matter shot at the same time, there's no way to know which one is truly "better".

I can say this: the footage I shot on the DVX/mini35 looks absolutely like 35mm. It is completely superb. The mini35 was a fantastic performer, and the results exceeded my expectations. I think the mini35 on a DVX100 produces outstanding results. Whether one camera has an edge over the other remains to be seen, but is actually somewhat irrelevant, because plenty of us in both camps have been able to deliver wonderful footage from all three cameras (DVX, XL1, and VX2000) using the mini35.

So, choose whichever camera you like, and the mini35 will perform very well with all of them.
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Old March 3rd, 2004, 07:47 PM   #5
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Hmmm, I guess you're right. I mean, how much different can these cameras be to one another when they are shooting through the same optics. So they'll all just look like 35mm film. Well, since it is March, I think I'll wait for April and May and see what possible new cameras come out then. Darn cameras are almost just as quickly phased out as computers these days! =)

BTW Barry, (I'm just figuring since you live in Las Vegas =/) do you know anything about UNLV having any DV/film classes? If so, what equipment do they use? Is it an okay school in general?
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Old March 3rd, 2004, 08:29 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Jack Felis :

BTW Barry, (I'm just figuring since you live in Las Vegas =/) do you know anything about UNLV having any DV/film classes? If so, what equipment do they use? Is it an okay school in general? -->>>

UNLV does offer film & video classes. The school is much more known for its hotel management courses though. From the festivals I've attended, I'm always amazed at how high quality the work is from Florida schools, and the AFI, and of course USC/UCLA. Those are the premium film schools, I think, if you judge by the caliber of work that is turned out.
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Old March 3rd, 2004, 08:34 PM   #7
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Well, that's good because I'm currently trying to figure out which schools to go to. Since my other choice doesn't have a video class, then I guess I'll be going to UNLV! Thanks =D (I love Las Vegas anyway)
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Old March 26th, 2004, 08:58 PM   #8
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Hi, Jack...

Just a quick question regarding your take on the "quality" of the Mini35. What is it that you want to achieve? If you want the sharpest, most crisp image possible, the DVX without the 35mm adapter is probably going to give you that (my opinion). If you want beautiful, i.e. less, contrast and the oh so wonderful depth of field inherent to film lenses, then obviously the adapter is the way to go. Just curious on what your take of "best quality" is.
I tested the adapter out on my antiquated XL1 and the footage was stunning, by that I mean the images weren't so damn DV, which the Director and I wanted for a particular project (even though I try to swim as far away from "DV" as possible anyway).
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Old March 27th, 2004, 12:11 PM   #9
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Well yeah, I mean, of course I want less DV like footage but I also want that image to be sharp and not fuzzy. But, of course, now I have to wait to see what comes out at NAB next month ;). I'd be more inclined to go for an XL2 with the 35mm adapter than a DVX100 with a 35mm adapter, that is, depending on what is revealed at NAB.
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Old March 27th, 2004, 11:35 PM   #10
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funny as I shoot with my mini35 the consistent response from film folks is that it looks like film as it is (their words) "softer" than video....
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Old March 28th, 2004, 10:13 AM   #11
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oh, well whatever. You know what I mean. My bad ^_^;;;

"Strike that, reverse it."
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Old March 29th, 2004, 11:21 AM   #12
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Having never been involved in the 35 adaptor forums, but having read some of it recently, isn't the loss of light issue favour a more sensitive camera to bring out the detail in the blacks, that also has higher latitude?

I notice much of the adaptor footage has a trendy dark look with a quick drop off to black. I take that as the ground glass causing a drop in light accross the range that is more uniform than linear. Meaning that the glass is "trying" to take the same amount of light from the brightest parts of the image as it does in the darkest, rather than a linear proportion, resulting in a loss of the low end.
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Old March 29th, 2004, 06:28 PM   #13
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it's funny now when I'm looking at mini35 footage I wonder what lens they used... I think that drop off might be loss of light with a slower lens exacerbated by a David Fincher style-look... or some "film look" plug in that stresses bleach and contrast...? The stuff I have most successfully shot so far was mostly flourescents and that was also very cold.
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Old March 29th, 2004, 06:30 PM   #14
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and yes, it's always funny.
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Old March 30th, 2004, 06:39 PM   #15
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I just want to comment in respect to "loss of light" shooting through a mini35:

A stock lens of an Canon XL1s has a loss of light rating that ranges throughout the zoom range. At it's best you will lose f1.6, at it's worst you will lose f2.6.

Since with the mini35 you shoot using fixed lenses, a 35mm lens rated f1.2 combined with the amount of light the mini35 consumes you might at worst cast scenario lose a total of f2.8 which is not that far off to what the original stock lens offers.

In that scenario there should be no difference with details in blacks, etc.. I did however shoot a short film using f3.5 (or worse) rated lenses and there was definitely something funny going on with the blacks between the background and foreground subject. Now I only use f1.2 of f1.4 rated lenses.

Getting back to Jack's original question though which was which camera used with the mini35 might offer the best quality for film blow up. I think the answer here really lies in which DV camera in general will offer the best digital to 35mm film transfer, irregardless of the mini35. The best people to ask this question are the companies out there actually doing digital to film conversions. What they should tell you is that higher resolution cameras (especially HD) and the larger sized 3 chip cameras will produce the best results for blow up to 35mm film.

These guys here in Toronto offer this service and at $330USD per minuted along with many satisfied customers I'm sure they know what they're talking about: http://www.sohodigital.com/faqs.htm
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